After Thursday’s outdoor practice, Sheldon Keefe discussed Jake McCabe’s status after the defenseman missed practice, John Tavares’ improved scoring form, Ryan Reaves’ play since rejoining the lineup, and interacting with the fans at Nathan Phillips Square.
What is Jake McCabe’s status?
Keefe: Yeah, we think he will be okay. We just wanted to make sure he got the day off today. He is a little banged up from yesterday, obviously, so both he and Giordano took the day.
Was the $5,000 fine for Mason Marchment enough punishment for his hit on McCabe?
Keefe: It is not my decision to make. I made it clear that I felt it was a play that should’ve been penalized in the moment. It is up to the league to handle it from there, which it seems they did.
How encouraged are you by how John Tavares has come out of the break in good scoring form?
Keefe: Thrilled about it. He scored a big goal going into the break, which I am sure helped a lot. As we have talked about, it wasn’t just about rest and relaxation for him. It was a combination of that and some work to stay fresh. A guy like him looks at it as an opportunity to refresh and also get a bit of a leg up on the rest of the competition as much as he can.
I am not surprised to see him come through. He is a guy who has scored a lot and has had his chances. We made some little adjustments on the power play that I think have benefitted him. He has capitalized on it and done a good job of it.
What have you thought of the way Ryan Reaves has played since he returned to the lineup?
Keefe: He’s been really good and has given us exactly what we need from him: a lot of energy, pressure on the puck, physicality, and he has been around the net. He has won his shifts.
Last night, it was a deep Dallas team that the Stars brought at you. There are not a lot of shifts off. I put him in some D-zone starts. He managed those situations very well as did his linemates. That is tremendous to see.
How was the whole outdoor experience for you?
Keefe: This is fun. It is a great event. Any time you come here, it never seems to fall into a great spot in the schedule. You’d like to get a day off and all of that, but this is a nice time to come out, see the engagement with the fans, and see the love and support from the fans. And they get outside to play some hockey. It is great.
Do you ever get a chance to get out on the ice with your two boys?
Keefe: During the season, not really, but I try to get out in the summer when I can. You try to cherish these moments like this when I can. My kids are getting older. You try to maximize every chance you get to do something like this.
I miss a lot, and they miss their dad a lot. They have the privilege to get out here and take part in the event. You want to make sure they get a chance to do so.
How would you describe the reaction of the riders on the subway when you travel over here?
Keefe: It is a mix of confusion and excitement. Some people are asking questions and are not quite sure what is going on. Others are maybe planning ahead and expecting us.
It is a nice thing and another great way to connect with the city and community and utilize the TTC. It is terrific for the guys to be able to do that, and my kids enjoyed being a part of it, too.
Did William Nylander need to give you some pointers? He is the veteran TTC rider on the team.
Keefe: He was getting hounded walking through there by people wanting pictures and autographs and asking him questions. I asked whether this is what it’s like for him on the subway. Normally, he is not wearing full equipment with his name on the back. It is a little bit of a different experience.
The guys really enjoy this event. The turnout is always terrific. It is a special thing to be a Leaf for sure. On an opportunity like this, you can really feel it.